Ghosting: Narratives of Noncommunication in the Digital Age (Röggla, Grjasnowa, von Rönne)

Marie-Luise Goldmann


This article examines narratives of “ghosting”—the act of cutting off all contact with someone without explanation—in three 21st-century novels, namely Kathrin Röggla’s wir schlafen nicht (2004), Olga Grjasnowa’s Der Russe ist einer, der Birken liebt (2012), and Ronja von Rönne’s Wir kommen (2016). While the relatively recent phenomenon has received increased attention in the popular press as well as in psychology and sociology, it has remained unrecognized in the field of literary studies. This study remedies this gap by focusing on scenes of noncommunication and disconnection against the backdrop of digital imperatives of availability and connectivity. In particular, it highlights narrative techniques that resemble ghosting such as open endings that resist closure, monologues that communicate unidirectionally, featureless characters that lack responsibility, and fragmentary writing that consists of informational gaps. Rethinking disappearances in the digital age, contemporary literature ultimately reflects on its own mediality. (M-LG)

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